One of my sisters once said to me that I must feel seeing her Facebook postings on horses the way she feels when she reads all my blog posts on quilting.  After my next to last post, a non-quilting friend commented on how much jargon I used to describe the quilt.  One of the terms I used in the post was thermofax screens. So today I will reveal what thermofax screens are and how they are made and used. However, I suspect that even though it will demystify the terminology, it just might not be as interesting to a non-quilter as looking at a pretty photo of a quilt. But here goes.

Thermofax machines are old school technology.  They were used to make original masters for running off multiple copies of things such as school and church newsletters. Today they are pretty much obsolete except for some used by tattoo artists for stencil making and quilters for adding patterns or designs to fabric surfaces.

I like to use thermofax screens to create my own images on fabric with either dye, fabric paint or a fabric discharge (to remove the color from the fabric.) Dye is good in that the dye does not affect the feel of the fabric.  Paint is good in that it dries much faster.  The discharge also creates a pretty cool look. Which do you think I use?

First you need a black and white image.  You can use drawings, copyright free images or your own photos converted to a stark black and white image.


You need to have a thermofax machine plus some screen on which to burn the image.


You put the image to be used (must be printed on a copy machine or a laser printer, ink jet prints will not work) under the screen material inside of a carrier (two sheets of plastic.)


Put the carrier through the machine.  The black marks on the paper cause the screen to burn.  So anywhere you have the black ink the screen will be burned out allowing you to pull paint or dye through it.  It is possible to create very fine images.


You can see that the shiny plastic screen now has the image of the tv burned into it.


You frame the screen to make it useable for printing.  You can use either duct tape or duct tape along with a plastic frame for durability. I like to write on the frame so that I can quickly tell what the image is and which side is up.


Holding the frame up to the light you can see the image that has been burned into the screen.


Now the fun part.  You use the screen to pull either dye or fabric paint through the screen and on to your piece of fabric.



You have to wash the screens immediately after using, especially if you used paint as it will stick in the screen.



In this case my original image had some grey lines and it affected the quality of the image I was able to print.  I used grey cloth with each white, grey and black paint. Can you tell at all what the image is?IMG_5903



As the quilt I am working on is not in the least bit realistic, I think one of these prints may work.  But I have no hints or clues for you on that project yet other than a piece of the fabric to be used is in the background of the first photo.

So until next time, when we just might switch back to the pretty photo of a quilt.

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